After winning a Tony, Bette Midler offers tearful thanks to Hawaii teachers

Hawaii News Now
After winning a Tony, Bette Midler offers tearful thanks to Hawaii teachers
Monday, June 12th 2017, 5:58 pm CDT
By Lillian Donahue, Digital Content Intern



After winning a Tony award Sunday night, Hawaii’s own Bette Midler took the chance to give the teachers who introduced her to theater an emotional “thank you.”

“I never had a chance to thank them publicly,” Midler told reporters. “But 57 years later, I got my chance.”

Midler won the 2017 Tony Award for best performance by an actress in a leading role in a musical for “Hello, Dolly! 

Speaking back stage, she took the chance to pay tribute to her former speech and drama teachers, Myrna Ishimoto and Betty Blake Rice.

The Radford High alumna recounted how everyone – including herself – spoke pidgin growing up. She was enrolled in a program to learn “proper English.”

Midler said her teachers took her “under their wing,” encouraging her to enter speech competitions.

“They kept pushing me along to do these state-wide contests,” Midler said. “And I became state champion.”

She said that opportunity introduced her to acting.

Tearing up, the actress shared how fundamentally important the role her teachers had in her life, even beyond the stage.

Midler’s speech teacher, Myrna Ishimoto, took the then-14-year-old her to the first restaurant she’d ever experienced.

“I was really, really poor and she showed me there’s another way, another way of life, and it was marvelous,” Midler said.

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